Tsipras will put pensioner bonus to Greek parliament

A Greek pensioner leans on a shepherd's crook during a demonstration against planned pension cuts in Athens, Greece, 3 November 2016
A Greek pensioner at a protest against pension cuts in Athens last month
The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has refused to back down over his plans to give poor Greek pensioners a pre-Christmas bonus.

A government official said Mr Tsipras would ask parliament on Thursday to approve the payment, worth €617m (£517m) in total.

Earlier, eurozone lenders suspended their recently agreed short-term debt-relief plan for Greece.

They said they had not been asked to approve the bonuses plan.

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the body that helps eurozone governments in trouble, said it would now be scrutinising the proposed handout.

“Following recent proposals by the Greek government to spend additional fiscal resources for pensions and VAT, our governing bodies have put their decisions temporarily on hold,” a spokesman for the ESM said.

“Institutions are currently assessing the impact of Greek government decisions vis-a-vis the ESM programme commitments and targets.

“[We] will then analyse the institutions’ assessment and subsequently decide how to proceed,” he said.

The debt-relief deal between Greece and the ESM was agreed on 5 December and would reduce the interest burden on the country’s debts of more than €300bn.

The Greek government announced its bonus for pensioners earning below €800 a month just three days later, but without consulting the eurozone representatives.

It also scrapped a rise in VAT for residents of Aegean islands to help relieve the economic pressure caused by an influx of migrants.

A spokesman for Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup – the eurozone finance ministers who have been negotiating with the Greek government over its massive debts – said the Greek government’s action appeared “to not be in line with our agreements”.

There was “no unanimity now for implementing short-term debt measures”, the spokesman added.

Analysis: Andrew Walker, BBC economics correspondent

This is a familiar refrain in the long-running story of the Greek bailout.

The lenders are once again concerned about the Greek government straying from the agreed programme.

Over and over again, missed objectives and slipping timetables have led to loan payments being delayed.

This time it is debt relief agreed by eurozone ministers rather than a loan payment that is being held up.

The particular issue is whether the measures on pensions and VAT will lead to Greece missing its targets for the government finances.

But there is another dispute in the background.

The arrangement of 5 December included extending the maturity on certain loans to the Greek government, and locking in the interest rate on some of its debts in order to reduce the country’s repayment burden, but they did not alter the total amount owed.

A key player in the latest decision to suspend the recent agreement has been Germany.

“If the rescue programme is going to be deemed a success, it is imperative that measures are not taken unilaterally,” said a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry.

Shares traded on the Athens stock market closed 3% lower.

James Matthews shipwreck off Perth coast mapped using 3D modelling

Australian Shipwreck Mapped

The New Daily reports that archaeologists from the Western Australia Maritime Museum have returned to the wreck James Matthews, a British merchant ship that sunk in 1841.

The team’s goal is to create a detailed, 3-D model of the ship in order to closely monitor how the vessel’s condition changes in the future. 

“The idea is we will come back every few years and take another set of photographs and be able to overlay the models,” says former museum director Graeme Henderson. 

“You’ll see growth in seaweed and sponges on the site and you’ll also be able to see the deterioration if that’s happened.” 

First discovered in 1973, the ship had sailed from London laden with farming equipment and other supplies for the newly established Swan River colony.

Because much of the ship was buried in sand, its cargo was unusually well preserved. Research into the ship’s history also revealed the vessel had a dark past.

Earlier it was known as the Don Franciso, and served as a Brazilian slaving ship that was seized by the British in 1837 with more than 400 slaves aboard. 

To read in-depth about maritime archaeology, go to “History’s 10 Greatest Wrecks.”

Source: Archaeology.org

Ancient world’s largest, richest, and perhaps most famous wreck in Antikythera, Greece

Underwater archaeologists investigate the first human remains to be found at the Antikythera shipwreck in almost 40 years.

The Antikythera shipwreck (circa 65 B.C.) is the ancient world’s largest, richest, and perhaps most famous wreck.

Discovered in 1900 off the Greek island of Antikythera, the site has yielded hundreds of treasures, including bronze and marble statues, as well as the Antikythera Mechanism, often referred to as the world’s oldest computer.

However, an important new discovery was made in summer 2016 when an international team recovered a human skeleton there. 

The remains, which include parts of the cranium, jaw, teeth, ribs, and long bones of the arms and legs, most likely belonged to a young male.

Evidence of at least four other individuals had previously been found at the site, but the newly discovered remains are the first to be uncovered in almost 40 years—and during the age of DNA analysis.

According to ancient DNA expert Hannes Schroeder, the discovery might provide the first opportunity to examine the genetics of an ancient mariner. 

“Human remains from ancient shipwrecks are extremely uncommon,” he says. 

“DNA analyses can potentially provide fascinating new information on the crew’s genetic ancestry and geographic origins.”

Project codirector Brendan Foley suggests that the individual may have been trapped belowdecks when the ship smashed into the rocks and sank. 

Parts of the skeleton discovered in 2016 remain in situ and will be further excavated this summer. 

Foley believes that even more human remains may survive at the site along with other precious cargo.

Source: Archaelogy.org

80 men were discovered shackled together at a necropolis near Athens

Regime Change in Athens

The remains of 80 men were discovered shackled together at the wrists in a mass grave at a necropolis near Athens

The end of the seventh century B.C. was a tumultuous period in Athenian history. Though once ruled by a king, the increasingly powerful region of Attica, home to Athens, had come to be presided over by aristocrats who maintained their hold on power through landownership and lifetime appointments. But as the century drew to a close, the political climate was primed for a new type of government—that of a single ruler, or tyrant. An evocative gravesite on the outskirts of Athens is a testament to this contentious moment in history.

Excavators at the Phaleron Delta necropolis have uncovered the remains of 80 men, shackled together at their wrists, lying in a mass grave. The most recent osteological studies have determined that the majority of the men were between 20 and 30 years old, although four were much younger, and that all 80 had been killed in the same manner—with a fatal blow to the head. The discovery of two small vases buried with them has allowed archaeologists to date the grave to the mid-to-late seventh century B.C., suggesting to project director Stella Chrysoulaki that the men were executed in the course of one of these attempts to gain political primacy. “For the first time,” Chrysoulaki says, “we can illustrate historical events that took place during the struggle between aristocrats in the seventh century and led, through a long process, to the establishment of a democratic regime in the city of Athens.”

Source: Archaelogy.org


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